God First – Shiphrah And Puah
“But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.”
Exodus 1:17 (ESVUK)
“Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor.”
1 Peter 2:17
What if someone in authority wants you to act against your conscience? If he or she wants you to do something that you know is contrary to God’s loving ways?
This is the situation in which the Hebrew midwives found themselves. The new Pharaoh did not want the Hebrew population to grow, and so his plan was to kill their new-born males. But how? “Call the midwife” was his response. Therefore, he summoned the two main Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to court, “when you serve as midwives to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him” (Exodus 1:16). They listened to him but they refused to kill the male children because they honoured God more than they honoured the king of Egypt.
In today’s world our crisis of conscience may not be as clear-cut as that of the Hebrew midwives. Chances are someone is not asking any of us to murder someone. But what if you are asked to tell a lie by your boss? Or if your older sibling wants you to join in stealing something with him or her? Or if your spouse wants you to go against what you know is right and good? What if someone tells you to deny Jesus Christ?
When the Apostle Peter wrote some 30 years after Christ’s resurrection, he knew that living the Christian life would bring its challenges. Paul had already instructed the Roman believers to follow the laws of the land, echoing the words of Jesus about rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Peter knew he had to be sensitive with his phraseology lest he put his readers in jeopardy with the authorities, and so he used the careful wording above. All bases are covered…showing respect to everyone, including the emperor and other believers. The “how to” of refusing to do something against God’s ways involves respect and other approaches, and is another discussion for another time. What is clear is that God is in the equation: we “fear God”.
For the believer, God is in our lives every day. Through the Spirit of Jesus he helps us make decisions. Let’s always put God first, just as Shiphrah and Puah did.
Father, through your Spirit give us the courage to follow Jesus, and to put you first always. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.